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Don’t blame Chrysler!

All our fault: Quality issues "had nothing to do with Chrysler".

Mercedes-Benz admits its past quality and service problems were of its own making

21 Sep 2007

REDOUBLING its efforts in retaining core Mercedes-Benz values will be the upshot of Daimler’s split with Chrysler, according to Dr Klaus Maier, executive vice-president of Mercedes Car Group sales and marketing.

“The reaction so far has been quite positive all around because everybody expects us (now) to be more focussed on our Mercedes-Benz brand and the related Daimler brands we still have in the company,” Dr Maier said.

“It gives us internally new momentum for the company, being focussed on the brand.”

Speaking at this year’s Frankfurt motor show, Dr Maier said that the German and American companies would nonetheless continue a meaningful relationship.

Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler will attempt to preserve much of the behind-the-scenes cost savings and streamlining that was gained when the two firms joined forces in 1998.

 center imageFrom the top: Chrysler 300C, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Chrysler Crossfire and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

“Still we have a lot of relations and co-operations, especially in the markets where we will still have to provide back-office functions for our Chrysler colleagues.

“We will not totally give up the relationship (with Chrysler).”

In fact, contrary to media reports suggesting that the American acquisition served only to distract Mercedes as it increasingly fell behind its German rivals in quality, Dr Maier insisted that any issues perceived or otherwise that Mercedes has suffered was all its own doing.

“Sometimes it is argued by the press, maybe by public opinion leaders, that we have lost focus on Mercedes in the past.

“(But) I think it is different. We have made our own mistakes… with Mercedes – in our processes and in the quality of our products,” Dr Maier admitted.

“And it had nothing to do with Chrysler. Our mistakes – to some extent – were homemade.”

Furthermore, Dr Maier argued that Daimler has already addressed the problems with solutions implemented well before its disentanglement with Chrysler.

“We have wiped out these issues in the last past years, and we are back to our traditional strengths even within the DaimlerChrysler set-up of the past.

“So I think (Chrysler) was not the real issue. Processes were wrong. We corrected it. And we are back to our former strengths. It is not a Chrysler issue.”

Central to these strengths, according to the senior Mercedes executive, is having reliable and high-quality product.

“I think we are back to where we have came from,” Dr Maier promises.

“We have made it a target – we want to be number one in quality, and not only in product and technology, but also in service quality.

“This is where we should be in Mercedes-Benz, and this is what we are working towards.”

Although Mercedes’ annual production figures have increased significantly over the last decade, Dr Maier disagrees with criticism that chasing big volume numbers has had an adverse effect on quality.

“I do not believe this is a reason why we should have lost ground in that respect,” he responded.

“I think we had to focus internally in order to make clearer what our position should be.

“We have been very honest with ourselves that we were not in the leading position in many countries when we were in the past.” Dr Maier suggested that it was only after exposing its weaknesses to itself that Mercedes could act upon them.

“We had to make it transparent put the processes in place get the backing from the board and then work hard all around the world.

“What we have seen in many countries – starting with getting a top service level – is progress... and it must be on a consistent basis because otherwise we will lose it again and we will fall back.”

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